4 Reasons Your Family Needs to See “That Physics Show” in NYC

The award-winning science show is a must-see attraction in New York City.

Curiosity is a good thing and getting kids engaged with—and excited about—STEM subjects is a positive result on many fronts.

“That Physics Show,” the Drama Desk Award winner for Unique Theatrical Experience (2016), is the perfect show for families with grade school-age children who want to learn, grow and explore nature’s most curious forces. Now in its second year Off-Broadway, here are just a few reasons why “That Physics Show” is an NYC experience that’s not to be missed:

David Maiullo doing an experiment in "That Physics Show" (©Donnell Culver)

“That Physics Show” is Educational and Fun

With the word “physics” in the show’s title, it is no secret that “That Physics Show” promotes a particular branch of the sciences. However, this show is no lecture: Audiences learn about different kinds of energy, light waves, temperature, motion, momentum, sound waves and sound vibration.

Proper science terms and laws are explained and then demonstrated in a way that everyone in the room—regardless of age or level of prior knowledge—can understand and relate to every day activities or happenings. Physics is brought to life with an array of props, from soda cans to a bed of nails to pickles, giving audiences an opportunity to see this science in action using practical real-world examples.

All experiments are led by professionals with decades of experience in the sciences under their belts. David Maiullo is a physics support specialist at Rutgers University for 30 years and familiar face from The Weather Channel. Maiullo is the main demonstrator of “That Physics Show” with Andrew Yolleck—a STEM educator at Liberty Science Center in New Jersey—as his alternate. Their knowledge and passion for physics, along with the show’s capable assistants who help out with props and demos ensure that each performance is both wildly entertaining and safe.

Audience Participation Engages Kids

What kid doesn’t love being allowed to help cause some—controlled—destruction or see things explode? Throughout the show, several volunteers are needed to come up on stage and assist with tasks to help successfully complete an experiment. No one is ever forced to participate: Shy children who would rather just watch are more than welcome to do so.

Oftentimes, Maiullo or Yolleck will ask the audience questions, challenging them to hypothesize what the outcome of an experiment should be. It is as encouraging as it is entertaining to witness kids’ enthusiasm while calling out their answers and seeing their subsequent reaction to whether they were correct or not.

By letting the audience to be involved throughout the show, there is a level of engagement that audiences don’t get from other theatrical experiences. Kids aren’t just sitting and watching a story unfold—they are encouraged to be part of the action.

Demonstration of trash can smoke rings at That Physics Show in NYC

Enjoy a Performance for the Whole Family

One of the best things about “That Physics Show” is how it appeals to everyone because the sciences are a universal field that defy gender and age stereotypes. A STEM-based subject like physics is important for all children to learn more about because it directly affects everything in our everyday lives and is inclusive of all other sciences.

That’s not to say that witnessing a ping pong ball traveling 700 mph and destroying some empty soda cans or seeing a liquid nitrogen-soaked hot dog shatter into tiny pieces are every day occurrences, but seeing a range of colors because of light refraction and experiencing the effects of Newton’s laws of motion are something ever child should get the chance to understand.

Stimulate Curiosity and Conversation

When kids are little, they like to ask “why?” about a lot of things and “That Physics Show” answers many of those questions, but also raises more. This show is a great conversation starter and a means for parents or guardians to experience something fun and educational with their kids as a family and then continue to learn and experiences the sciences together long after exiting the theater.

Though “That Physics Show” is definitely aimed at younger children, adults will enjoy themselves too. For grown-ups, “That Physics Show” is an easy-to-digest refresher on things they may have learned in school years (and years) ago. Plus, it is entirely entertaining watching kids in the audience getting excited because of science.

It is important to note that there are some very loud noises over the course of the show. The audience is always warned ahead of time when a balloon is going to pop or if something is about to get smashed, so it is never a surprise, but the sounds could still be a bit jarring for little ones.

David Maiullo with a soon-to-be-frozen hot dog in That Physics Show

Based on positive reviews from critics and attendees, it is hypothesized that seeing “That Physics Show” will entertain your family. However, it is apparent over the course of said show that guessing an outcome based off of prior knowledge or another person’s testing is one thing, but scientists should conduct experiments themselves to collect firsthand data. Ergo, your family members will need to see “That Physics Show” for themselves to prove that this hypothesis is, indeed, fact.

“That Physics Show” is playing at the Physics Theatre at 300 W. 43rd St., at Eighth Ave., and is presented on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year, in addition to offering tickets to Wednesday matinees during July and August of 2017.